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    Joe Biden at the helms in USA – Implications for India

    Joe Biden has finally been declared the President of US. Although Donald Trump is yet to concede defeat, the race for presidentship is virtually over.

    Prime minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind have already sent congratulatory message to the president-elect Joe Biden and the new Vice President Kamala Harris. It is now almost certain that Joe Biden will be the 46th President of the United States of America.

    There are many who feel that election of Biden and Kamala Harris as the president and vice-president of United States, would have deep repercussions for India-US relations.

    There are also many who view their election as some sort of setback to Indo-US relationship. They feel Joe Biden would not be as pro-India as Donald Trump was.

    In fact, when Donald Trump had come into office as the new President of US, the same circumspect fears were also expressed. Especially, in view of his unpredictable and quirky nature and his emphasis on ‘America First’ policy. There were many who felt that Donald Trump would not give much importance to Indo-Us relations.

    However, he changed within a few months into his presidency and with time, he not only leaned towards India, but developed a very good working relationship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi too. So much so that his defeat in the elections is now being seen as a defeat for India’s Narendra Modi too.

    We must remember that national foreign policies are not individual-dependent. Usually, nations adopt a long-term view of their foreign relations and keep their long-term interests in mind while forging relationships with other nations.

    There are also many Indian Americans who feel that Biden is very pro-India as he had supported nuclear deal with India and he is looking forward to work with Narendra Modi.

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    It is true that traditionally, Democrats have not been very friendly towards India. However, there were quite a few democratic Presidents who have had very good relations with India.

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    Barrack Obama and Bill Clinton too were democrats. Yet, they were quite pro-India in their approach, at least towards the end of their presidentship, if not at the beginning.

    There are many experts who are already forecasting a doomsday for India, especially for the Narendra Modi-led NDA government at the centre. They feel that given the record of Kamala Harris and Joe Biden’s stands on Kashmir and other issues, it is possible that India would find it difficult to work closely with US on several issues that are important for it, including those connected with relations with China and Pakistan.

    It is true that Kamala Harris has been critical of India’s Kashmir policy and her being in office would certainly give Modi’s detractors, and also India’s detractors’, much more influence.

    Biden has announced that he will restore US’s ‘respected leadership’ on world stage and would work to bring together the world democracies.

    He had also written in a a newspaper article: “The US and India will stand together against terrorism in all its forms and will work together to promote a region of peace and stability, where neither China nor any other country threatens its neighbours.”

    However, Trump during his presidentship had brought US much closer to Narendra Modi’s India in terms of strategic and defence co-operation. For confronting China, this strong relationship was important for both India and the US.

    However, it is still not certain that Joe Biden would be as forthcoming in supporting India in confronting China or on forming a quad with India, Japan and Australia to take on the Chinese expansionist dreams.

    It is known that both Biden and Harris have been speaking against the so-called ‘human rights violations’ in India, especially Kashmir. And most of the remarks that came from them indicated that both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have lent their ears to those who are not very friendly to Indian position on several key issues, including the issues of CAA and scrapping of Article 370.

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    However, nations do not formulate their long-term policies and perspectives based on on narrow and short-term political ends.

    It is also true that Biden would like to see a stronger US-India relationship. And containment of China is a policy that no US president would abandon in a hurry. China is going to be the next challenger to US and no president can ignore the elephant in the room.

    So, it seems, all is not lost for India just because a new president has taken over the reins in United States of America.

    Moreover, nations are driven by their long term interests and not so much by personal relations and personal points of view.

    However, back in India, the left and liberal groups in India seem to be quite excited with the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

    However, it is too early to say which way the wind would blow.

    One thing is certain: even if Joe Biden’s team is keen on improving relationships with China, it would have to continue with the US policy of containing China in the Indo-pacific region. US cannot abandon its policies of confronting China in the Indo-pacific region.

    While it would be interesting to see what stand the new US administration takes on several key issues important for India, like Pakistan, terrorism and Iran, not much earth-shaking changes are expected.

    Indo-US relations are founded on mutual interests and those interests are so well-aligned that not much adverse consequences should be expected.

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    The US Presidential elections have been chaotic. And it really has left many Indians wondering why the US has failed to put in place a more credible and transparent system of voting and vote counting.

    The contentious vote counting and allegations of fake ballots being sent in through postal services even after the scheduled period, has left many Indians dumbfounded. Who could believe in India that an election process in United States of America would be so chaotic?

    And this highlighted the importance of an electronic system of voting. In India too, elections and by-elections are on in Bihar and several other states . Yet, there is no suspicion over the election results and vote counting system. It is true that, even in India, it is routine for the losing sides to blame the EVMs for a few days, no one takes such allegations seriously.

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    We must thank Election Commission of India for having evolved and built a reliable and trustworthy system for our elections.

    For a country, as chaotic and populous as India, an effective, credible and trustworthy election system is a matter of pride. We can be proud that we have a few things that are better than the best of the worlds. While Election Commission of India is one such institution, ISRO is the other one.

    Only yesterday, ISRO made us proud by successfully launching its latest earth observation satellite along with nine satellites from customer nations on board PSLV-c49 launch vehicle from Sriharikota.

    The success of ISRO and Election Commission of India prove that we have hope for future and gives us the confidence that we too are capable of making world-class institutions and of making world-class contributions in progress of humanity.

    Town Post Podcast Epidode- 7

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